She's one of the most astonishing women I have ever known. We had a friendship which lasted over twenty years, she said exactly what she thought about whoever she wanted, and perhaps more than anyone she taught me the art of fearlessness.
Sadly she was too fond of calling the police and yanking people off to court, and ended up being declared a vexatious litigant.
To me, she was kindness itself--she thought the world of Jeanne, and our binges and bitching sessions were notorious. At her parties we met some of the most outrageous people--some became friends, one or two became more than friends. We got into all kinds of scrapes, and much of this will be brought to light now that I've been asked to write Dot's biography. It's fifteen years today since she left us. I last saw her two years before she died--she lived just down the road--but we kept in touch on the phone almost until the very end.
Dot's autobiography, Rain, Rain, Go Away! was a sensation--or would have been if they'd allowed it to be published. It contained 186 'episodes of serious libel', some of these against some of the men in her life. I know because she gave me a copy of the script. What she wrote about a certain newspaper tycoon, and numerous people at the BBC would make a docker blanch. She was almost like a walking 'Confidential' magazine. She told the truth, she named names.
But enough of that. Dot will always be remembered as quite possibly the finest British singer of them all. You can forget your Basseys with their windmilling arms, your Winehouses with their ever-present bottles, much as loved both of these ladies. Dot was the only ever British chanteuse réaliste, and a damned good one she was at that. Her recording of 'May Way' only just sneaked into the Top 30, but it was in the charts for six months and sold three million copies. Today's chart-toppers average around 20,000 if they're lucky.
A taster for the book appears in Edith Piaf:Interviews With Those Who Knew Her, and I don't doubt that while I'm working on the new one that there'll be lots of laughter and tears. I'll never forget that monent in Leicester when Jeanne was taking the pictures backstage, and the Mayor's wife said, 'My dear, I feel like a racehorse!' Quick as lightning, Dot responded, 'You f*****g look like one!' She was a class act! Someone once said of Montgomery Clift, 'That man had class, even when peeing in the gutter!' That was Dot.
AND she went to Graceland to have dinner with Elvis, who she made weep when she sang 'This Is My Mother's Day'.
So whenever I'm feeling pissed off with life's inconsequential idiots, I just close my eyes and ask myself, 'What would Dot do in this situation?'